President outlines goals for University of Texas in annual address

UT President Gregory Fenves at the state of the university address on Sept. 12, 2017 (KXAN Photo)
UT President Gregory Fenves at the state of the university address on Sept. 12, 2017 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — During his third address as president of the University of Texas, Greg Fenves outlined the main goals he wants to tackle in the new school year.

During his speech Tuesday, Fenves announced three main initiatives: increasing financial aid for low and middle income students, adding experience into degree programs by encouraging staff to take lessons outside of the lecture hall and competing for top educators by investing in higher salaries.

Fenves said UT provides a life-changing education for students, but access and affordability often present a challenge for students. With scholarships, Fenves said opportunities will be equalized for people from all backgrounds, making the university an engine for upward mobility.

“I believe that now is the time for the nation to rededicate itself to strengthening these great engines of upward mobility — public universities like UT,” Fenves said.

Fenves said UT should be intentional about keeping talented students in Texas by re-imagining the way courses are taught. During his address he implored educators to think about the role of technology in learning and engage with students by working together to make class a hands-on experience.

Fenves said the efforts must be led by faculty, and that the university’s purpose can only be fulfilled by hiring the best. He said competing for the top employees is the motivation behind substantially increasing funding to develop faculty retention plans.

The money for the initiatives will come from the Available University Fund totaling $24 million. It was allocated to UT by the Board of Regents earlier this year.

During his address, the president also announced the launch of two programs. “College to Career” will reinforce the university’s commitment to students after graduation, funding mentors that will help place students in their first jobs. “UT Health Austin” supports the goal of improving health care, serving patients in Austin and Travis County through programs directly run by Dell Medical faculty.

“At The University of Texas, we continually strive to reach our own potential, and we do that by unlocking the potential of all who come here to teach, work and learn,” Fenves said. “That’s how we rise to the heights we are capable of …. and live up to those six words that define us — what starts here changes the world.”

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